[A quick note: I read this as part of a buddy read for October but also because it perfectly fit my autumn TBR. This copy came from Fairyloot and it is absolutely stunning. I love it when a book’s outside matches its inside. Also, this is the first in a series that will undoubtedly be a murder mystery series.]
“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡. 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞.”—Adalyn Grace
This was one of the best books I’ve read all year. It was SO GOOD!!! I wanted to highlight literally every sentence. I had to stop myself. This was chosen as our October buddy read; it was so much fun discussing theories because it was, at heart, a murder mystery. There was intriguing plot, gorgeous prose, detailed characters, plenty of mystery, and beautiful romance all set in a Victorian society. Most of the story takes place in Throne Grove, a mysterious mansion that has ghosts, a garden with poisonous plants, and a host of different characters to amuse and confuse you.
I want to note that I read Adalyn Grace’s debut, “All the Stars and Teeth,” and while I enjoyed it, I was kinda meh overall. It was good, fairly unique, but I didn’t come away saying “Wow!” The amount of growth between her debut and Belladonna is STAGGERING.
“𝐇𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐳𝐳𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐨𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐝𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐞.”—Adalyn Grace
Let’s start with the romance. My favorite part!! I loved how it was handled here. We have a couple of romantic interests at the start. The first is Sylas the stable boy. The second is Death. Both are mysterious and alluring. I really liked how the romance developed over time, and how Signa grew and evolved during her romantic journey. I don’t want to say too much, so I don’t spoil it. Note: this is NOT a love triangle (don’t worry!).
The plot! OMG. The plot was FANTASTIC! It’s rare that I’m tricked during a murder mystery. Usually I spot red herrings. I could NOT figure out who the killer was until they were reveled. I SWORE I knew who it was, and I was wrong! This little twist delighted me. Bravo Adalyn Grace. Bravo.
What about the setting? It’s no surprise that Victorian mansions are some of my favorite settings. I LOVE gothic world building. All the formal balls, the etiquette, lords and ladies, corsets, courting, afternoon tea, governesses…okay, okay, you get it. This was a beautiful setting. The world building is set around an age old idea: Death walks among us beyond the veil, ferrying souls when they depart this world. The unique thing is: Signa can SEE Death. She can FEEL Death when he comes to collect souls. And she HATES him for it. It’s this ability that makes her difference. This ability is the premise of the whole story.
“𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐰. 𝐀 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲. 𝐀 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐨 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐝. 𝐒𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫. 𝐒𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐜𝐡. 𝐒𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐤 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐨𝐧. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐦𝐢𝐭.”—Adalyn Grace
How about the characters? All of them are unique and layered. Signa’s character arc was lovely. She stars off as a naive girl deprived of so many facets of society. All she wants is to experience the things other ladies do: attend balls, be courted by a handsome gentlemen, wear pretty dresses, enjoy tea parties, etc. Instead, she’s been mistreated by relative after relative. However, when she’s finally given these things, she begins to question if this is actually what she wants. It’s a timeless theme.
You know how we all have that ONE book we recommend to EVERYONE? This is that book now. It’s got everything that makes a good book. It appeals to a wide audience making it perfect. I will warn that there’s a small cliffhanger at the end. Don’t worry, all loose ends pertaining to the story are tied up. Rather, a new mystery emerges in the final pages. I normally hate cliff hangers, but this one was more of a motivation to pick up the second book. Without it, I wouldn’t have had a reason for wanting Foxglove. Obviously, I’d pick it up regardless, but now I have a REASON to!
𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟓/𝟓⭐️